Mansfield City Council President Cliff Mears has announced Wednesday's night council meeting will be closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns. It will be live-streamed on the city's Facebook page.

MANSFIELD -- Mansfield City Council's meeting Wednesday night will not be open to the public, based upon concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak.

Council President Cliff Mears on Tuesday announced the meeting will instead be live-streamed on the city's Facebook page.

Local media, including Richland Source, will be allowed to attend and report on the meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m.

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In a statement, Mears said various authorities, including President Trump, Gov. DeWine and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have released guidelines recommending avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people.

He said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued an opinion that said the state's elected officials and public bodies may comply with the Ohio Open Meetings Act by meeting electronically -- providing the public has virtual access to the meetings and is able to hear all discussions and deliberations of such meetings.

"We are now presented with a situation in which a public body might not be able to comply with both the terms of the order and the Open Meetings Act. Stopping the business of government is not an option,” Yost wrote to elected officials.

Yost said local officials can meet over a telephone conference call or a virtual online video meeting. If an elected officials’ connection is dropped, the meeting must be stopped until it is restored, he said.

Mears said, "Accordingly, Mansfield City Council will conduct (Wednesday's) meeting persuant to the guidance of these various authorities.

"Members of City Council may appear electronically, by video or phone; the meeting will be live-streamed on the city's Facebook page; and a limited number of media will be invited to attend the event," Mears said.

Mears said council will focus on essential pieces of legislation and that committee meetings planned before caucus have been cancelled.

One primary piece of legislation council must act on is the 2020 permanent appropriations budget. Under Ohio law, that budget must be enacted by the end of March.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"